Interstate improvements dominate talks at transportation summit

Interstate improvements dominate talks at transportation summit
Updated: Apr. 25, 2017 at 5:15 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Mayor-president Sharon Weston Broome hosted the first ever Better Transportation and Roads Summit at the Renaissance Hotel in Baton Rouge on Tuesday.

State reps, business executives, and council members were among those in attendance. The objective was to determine solutions to Baton Rouge and Louisiana's transportation issues.

Congressman Garret Graves says changes need to be made to the interstate. "One of the biggest challenges we have here is that people use the interstate system as their main street," Graves said. "And it was never designed, interstates aren't really designed to go from College to Acadian or to go from Sherwood Forest to Airline, but that's what people do, and so we've got to do a better job of laying transportation routes, transportation corridors, freeway type corridors for people to cross the city without having to get onto the interstate."

Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) secretary Shawn Wilson agrees. He's pushing for an additional $700 million in state funding to improve Louisiana's roads.

"From the state's perspective, we have to concentrate on the interstate because it's an internationally significant corridor from Long Beach to Miami,"
Wilson said. "It's critical. It's a part of the daily life for citizens here, so when you see the advances that we've done on widening Highland 73 and the Washington Terrace exit, we can't ignore the need to widen I-10 through Baton Rouge."

"We talked a lot about corridors and capacity, which is certainly important, as well as our mobility and urban enhancement and so all of that coupled with smart growth and technology makes for a great equation," said Broome.

That $700 million increase was recommended by the governor's Transportation Task Force back in December. They recommended getting funds by increasing the gas tax. Louisiana Representative Steve Carter wrote HB 632, which would increase the tax by 17 cents. That bill is in the Committee on Ways and Means.

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